Dangerous deep freeze follows snowstorm
Update: As of 5:09 p.m. about 75 percent of all flights leaving or arriving at Philadelphia International Airport were classified as “late” or “very late,” according to flightview.com. Philadelphia Streets Dept. says 380 trucks are clearing city streets.
After the snowstorm that closed schools and made driving hazardous throughout the Philadelphia region, temperatures on Saturday morning are forecast to challenge a nearly 95-year-old record.
With a bone-chilling low of 2 predicted in Philadelphia, which would be the lowest reading since January 1994 and tie the record set in 1918, whatever melted during the day was expected to freeze rock hard overnight. More wintry preciptation is possible Sunday, followed by a warm-up, followed by another deep freeze.
Fortunately, the region’s motorists evidently have been paying attention to the warnings.
Besides some scattered fender benders, the only major accident reported this morning involved a jackknifed tractor-trailer on the Girard Point Bridge, which closed the southbound lanes of I-95 in South Philadelphia for hours Friday morning.
The Triple A Midatlantic people had an intensely busy day, and by late afternoon had answered more calls in the region than they do in a typical 24-hour period, said spokeswoman Jenny Robinson.
SEPTA said that as of noon, service remained suspended only on bus route 35, the Manayunk/Roxborough loop. About a dozen other routes that were unable to operate earlier. Some Regional Rail Line trains were experiencing delays of about a half-hour. Travel information and other updates can be found at www.septa.org
PATCO said its trains are running on schedule after experiencing 10-minute delays during the morning rush hour.
Amtrak is operating on a modified schedule and NJ Transit is cross honoring bus and train tickets.
Philadelphia International Airport reported arrival delays of up to 3 1/2 hours on some flights and urged anyone planning to pick up passengers to check with the airline or www.phl.org for their flight’s status. According to www.flightview.com, 244 flights to or from Philadelphia — about 20 percent of the daily total — had been canceled as of 9:30 a.m. Friday.
Officially the National Weather Service measured 9 inches at Philadelphia International Airport. With about a month to go to Groundhog Day, the seasonal total stands at 20.2 inches, close to the average for an entire season.
In general, totals ranged from 5 to 9 inches throughout the region, on the high side of the forecasts, thanks to a vigorous early-evening start on Thursday.
The forecast calls for temperatures to approach 30 on Saturday, and fall back into the mid-20s for the playoff game at the Linc between the Eagles and New Orleans Saints.
Some more wintry precipitation is possible Sunday, the weather service said, but it is expected to change to rain during the afternoon. Then another Arctic front is due, and temperatures on Tuesday might struggle to reach the teens.
For students and teachers who only returned to school on Thursday after the Christmas break, the snowstorm resulted in an unexpected three day holiday as most school districts in the region, including Philadelphia, closed for the day.
Eugene Blaum, a PennDot spokesman, said highways were passable during the morning rush hour but snow covered and that motorists needed to watch their speed.
He said 415 trucks were out all night working to clear state highways. The Philadelphia Streets Department said it deployed 380 trucks to clear city streets.
“This was a strong storm overnight,” Blaum said.
At 4:30 a.m., PennDot reported that I-95 southbound was closed between Broad Street and Enterprise Avenue due to a jackknifed tractor-trailer. It reopened around 8 a.m.
The Red Cross said it was assisting 16 people from four families displaced by fires overnight.
Delaware County announced early Friday its government offices would be closed for the day.
The Plymouth Meeting, Willow Grove, Exton Square and Springfield Malls all announced they would not open until noon.
Staff writers Mari A. Schaefer and Anthony R. Wood contributed to this article.